“You must go to the peak!”
“See Hong Kong from above and go to the Peak!”
“The view is awesome.”
Some of the handful of things people said to me about the Peak in Hong Kong. Formally known as Victoria Peak (太平山), it is the highest point on Hong Kong Island. The view is famous, offering spectacular viewpoints over Victoria Harbour, the Hong Kong skyline and distant mountains in the New Territories.
It was unfortunate that for most of my time in Hong Kong, it was shrouded under a dense cloud of smog. I could barely see from our apartment so my hopes of getting good views from the Peak were not high. We kept on putting it off determined to wait out the weather. I’m not paying to go up to see a view that I can’t see. My stubbornness won out and on our last day in Hong Kong, I woke up to gloriously blue skies. I was ecstatic! To the Peak!
The quickest way of getting to the top is by taking the tram from Central. If you have an octopus card with enough money on it, you can skip the line to buy tickets and just get in line for the tram. While queuing up, there are exhibits talking about the tram’s history. They’re hard to appreciate since everyone is jostling around you as they wait and the crowds are quite dense. The trams came pretty frequently, despite there being only two of them, and we didn’t have long to wait before we were heading up.
Opened in 1888, the tram covers a distance of 1.4 km and an elevation of just under 400 meters. At times while riding the tram, it felt so steep to the point of it being uncomfortable even though at its very steepest, it was only 27 degrees. Along the way, there are a few stops. The tram also serves as public transport for those who live on the mountain.
At the top, you arrive in the basement of the Peak Tower – essentially a glorified shopping mall built exclusively for tourists. Get out of there ASAP. There are a couple walking trails that take you to various viewpoints along the top. Once outside, the view was fantastic. You could see the whole city and beyond!
It was such a difference from the last time I was here on my last whirlwind visit to Hong Kong almost 10 years ago. It was 3 am. I was on a layover enroute to Cambodia and a family friend drove my friend and me up to the Peak for the view. I remember it being foggy and the twinkling lights of the city below were blurry. Or maybe it was my eyes that were blurry seeing as it was the middle of the night and I had barely slept on the flight over.
We headed in both directions to take in the view from different vantage points. We visited the Lions View Point Pavilion on one side and then walked a portion of the Peak Circle Walk.
It was strange being able to look down into the backyards of those living close to the mountain. From this high up you definitely can appreciate how compact the city is and how close together buildings are. It’s hard to tell where one building begins and another starts. All you see is glass, glass and more glass!
While I enjoyed the views and had a great walk around a part of the peak, I felt the overall experience was really touristy and fake much like a few other experiences in the city. That said, if you’re able to avoid all the tourist traps and you get lucky with the weather, you’re rewarded with stellar views of the city.
One of my friends went at night said that it was a completely different experience and he preferred that view more. You can check out his photos on his Flickr page. Perhaps on a smog free night it would be a great view. Regardless of the time of day you go, getting high up to see the city is a must.
Good to know
From Hong Kong’s Central district you can gain access to the Peak via the funicular railway. You can also take Bus 15 from Exchange Square bus terminus (near MTR Hong Kong Station, Exit D) or the Minibus 1 from MTR Hong Kong Station public transport interchange. If you decide to go with the tram, fill up your octopus card before you arrive so you can skip the line for tickets.
At the time of writing, it costs $40HKD round trip for an adult to take the tram. Trams run 7 am to 12 midnight every 10 – 15 minutes.
On the peak website, you’re offered a number of different Peak experience packages. You don’t need to pay anything more than your return ticket on the tram to enjoy the views from the Peak.
If you decide to go for a walk at the top, bring water and snacks! Both are rather expensive at the top and there are no food stops along the routes.
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